Can Corey Clement be an all-time Wisconsin great?

Mike McGinnis

After an impressive first two games, it's time to step in the projection machine and see just what exactly the future might hold.

Okay, okay. Hold on, before you hyperventilate about me trying to hot sports take you. I know. Corey Clement's only played two games. Two games against teams of a lesser vintage. I get that. He's the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, but I understand if you want to hold off

But if you want to know a fun fact about just how dominant Corey Clement's been in the early going: He's currently averaging 1.8 more yards per carry than Ron Dayne did after two games in 1996 (and that was against Eastern Michigan and UNLV, both rather slouchy). He's currently second among modern freshman Badgers with 250 yards after two games. He's even keeping the dreams of one of my hyperbolic predictions alive.

Now I grant you, the expectations are that he's going to fade back from view of the current hydra that is the Badger running backs. And it's true that he's being helped by the way the defenses are having to chase after Melvin Gordon. (Seriously, he's averaging just under 12 yards a carry since 2012.) But with those caveats on play, I'm going to try and give you the story that has Clement right up there on the alphabetical Mount Rushmore with Ameche, Ball and Dayne.

1. He's not going to fade into the background as far as you think this season

Gary Andersen's history has had him favor a more mobile quarterback under center, and his future recruits (D.J. Gillins and Austin Kafentzis) fit our fair coach's wishes like a glove. But for this season? Joel Stave may be a lot of things, but you're not going to see a lot of designed quarterback runs from him. Andersen has shown a desire to have his quarterback run around 130-140 times. Joel Stave's on pace for just under 50.

Those carries aren't going to just be split among Gordon and White. Granted, It may be a split of 40-30-20. But those 20 carries could very well be the difference between a 700-yard season and an 850-yard season. And how many of them are going to be around the goal line?

2. His time will be coming very soon

Some NFL team could well be happy with the quickness and smooth running styles of James White next season. But here's the thing all Badger fans are afraid to say because mentioning it might will it into existence: Melvin Gordon is a draft-eligible sophomore. Now I grant you, on the surface this doesn't mean very much. Lot of sophomores are of the redshirt variety.

But you want to know how insane of a home run threat Melvin Gordon's been?

Yeah. Thomas has had more carries, but Melvin Gordon can have all of his next 27 carries be two-yard losses before he meets Thomas' current average. Suffice it to say, the odds are long that Melvin Gordon's going to be on the field in Dallas in 2015 to roll up against the Crimson Tide.

And while Vonte Jackson can get an opportunity to show something if the Angry Vonte Jackson Hating God finds existence of other Vonte Jacksons, and Taiwan Deal gets an opportunity to be the second thunder to Corey Clement's thunder. Sooner or later, this backfield is going to be Clement's.

3. Corey Clement just plain runs well

Coming into the year, the book on Clement was simple. He's not a speed burner, but he has that balance and power that allow him to break tackles and the vision that allows him to get to full speed quickly. When he finally came to campus, it wasn't difficult to see that Clement wasn't going to be kept in reserve for long.

Now we're here, just wondering what exactly we have in Clement. It's definitely good. And the odds are he's not going to wear down like Anthony Davis and P.J. Hill did. I mean, for the most part he's going to be used as a sledgehammer to bludgeon tired defenses and some goal-line work this year.

As a sledgehammer to bludgeon tired defenses? He's something close to a luxury. He may fade as we get into the teeth of the tough part of the schedule. But the second half of the year? There are some run defenses that the Badgers could well eat alive.

He's going to get reps. He's going to make plays. I'm knocking on wood and throwing salt over my shoulder and making sure my Lincoln penny falls face up. Disaster can absolutely strike and make this seem stupid.

But with that being said, I believe in Corey Clement. I believe he has a huge career ahead of him. I believe he's going to be thrilling Badger fans for years to come.

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